Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Purses, Produce, and Pie (Oh My!)

 Time to showcase some more bags from my collection. This style of bag, sometimes called a, "Bottletop" or "Expansion-Top" has been around from at least the 1920's. This bag of course is not from that era, and I'd place it somewhere in the 70's or 80's.
 Danny was amazed to see how it opened. It was like some sort of magic trick as he'd been trying to understand what on earth it was. Yeah sure, "computer age" blah, blah, blah. It really doesn't take much to befuddle kids these days. Just for fun, sometimes I like to pull out the Victrola and tell him to crank it up.
"Oh, I get it now!"
The label is a dead giveaway that this is NOT a flapper-bag (no zip-codes in the 20's, and we weren't importing from Hong Kong). I'm labouring the point because I see so many of these for sale online that are clearly later plastic beads and hardware that wasn't around in the 1920's. Styles get recycled, so you have to use a bit of common sense when shopping for vintage.

The next bag has been in my life at least 45 years. Maybe more.
Every year for my birthday, our housekeeper would buy me the same thing-a small handbag and a pair of nice gloves. Only once did she deviate from that pattern and present me with a set of fancy applique hand towels, which are in use in our powder room today. Otherwise, it was bags and gloves. Somehow, this bag alone survived. I can remember the others-a particularly nice red and white beaded one comes to mind, but I didn't hang onto them.
 I suspect this bag survived so long because I didn't use it, and its sole purpose all those years was holding something sentimental within. Every time I'd move house it would get packed into another box to be forgotten until the next time I discovered it with the subsequent move. Being small enough to store easily, I never saw the need to discard it, and I always knew where the contents were. I suppose by now you want to see what I've been carting around in my little handbag from Ella Mae all these years.

Yep, crumbled carnations and the plastic backing and ribbons the bouquet was affixed to. At some point I sealed them in a ziplock (I don't think those existed in 1974). I recently thought it a good idea to label them in case I lose my mind or something.

So that's the purses. On to the produce.

We grew a number of tomato varieties this year. The German Johnson (stop snickering) don't get terribly red when ripe, and this does make harvesting a bit of a challenge. We also grew Beefsteak, Betterboy, and Abe Lincoln.

You want some pie, don't you?
This is Bluebarb pie (blueberry rhubarb). As blueberries and rhubarb don't come into season at the same time, I stock up on rhubarb in the spring, and freeze it just to make this pie. Well, sometimes I make apple-rhubarb because Danny likes that one too, but I'm really only in it for the blueberries. The boys don't like rhubarb and custard (I know, I don't understand it either)so the beautiful pink stalks only really find use in pie. This is a straightforward recipe, and you can bake it with the fruit fresh or frozen. I do like to defrost it a bit if using frozen so it will blend with the tapicoa pearls, but it can still be a bit icy to accomplish that.

For the Filling:
4 cups blueberries
2 cups cut-up rhubarb
1/3 cup quick tapioca
1 1/2-2 cups granulated sugar (go with what you prefer)

Mix all together and let stand 15 minutes while you make the pastry, giving the fruit a stir now and then to distribute the sugar and tapioca.

For the pastry:
1/3 cup ice water (you may not need it all)
3/4 cup good quality unsalted butter (cheaper butter has a higher water content)cold and cut into tiny bits
2 cups instant blend flour (I use Wondra)
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a couple forks if your prefer) until fine crumbs. Slowly add the water adding just enough until the dough comes together in a ball. You can always add a few more drops if needed, so add slowly. Try to avoid over-handling the dough. Divide in two, and roll out thinly.

Line the pie plate with pastry and fill with fruit. Cut-up another 2 tablespoons of cold butter and dot the top of the fruit with it. You should try to pile the fruit highest in the centre as it will sink considerably as it cooks. Cover with top piece of pastry and crimp edges closed.

Brush the top of the pie with heavy cream (or milk if you don't have any) and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Cut vents in top to steam, and place the pie tin on a baking sheet with a rim. The pie will bubble and boil over and you will have a terrible mess if you neglect this step. It is normal for this pie to lose some liquid on the pan, so be ready for it.

Bake pie at 400 degrees F. for about an hour, but start checking at 50 minutes because ovens vary. You really should see something bubbling up through the vents to indicate it is done. If your pie is browning too quickly before the filling is cooked, cover it lightly with some foil.

Because this is an all-butter crust it is less flaky than a crust with shortening or lard. It will however withstand a wet filling without going soggy on you, so there's a bit of a trade-off. We're on the fifth day with this pie and the bottom crust is still in good shape.

Store the cut pie in the fridge, but warm it to room temperature before serving (or blast a slice in the microwave if you're feeling fancy.

Come on over, we still have a few slices left.

We're having torrential rainfall these past few days, and a cold front has brought some welcome cooler weather. I have a pot of black bean soup bubbling away as I type, and a loaf of crusty bread ready to go in the oven. It is a good day to stay indoors, that's for certain.


ThriftyParka said...

My goodness your family is lucky to have a (stylishly) dressed, accomplished cook. Once again you've inspired me to create something in the kitchen.

Ugh, rain. We are due to get heavy rain starting tomorrow. That bean soup sounds heavenly!

Beth Waltz said...

Greetings from the land of fried green tomatoes!

That silvery leafy clutch would look well with your silvery 70s jumpsuit! But it earns its place in a drawer as a memory keeper, too. If ever a photo from that play turns up, be sure to tuck it inside. Danny will thank you for it someday.

Goody said...

@Thrifty Parka
Thank you. Once I mastered pastry, everything else was easy ;)

@Beth Waltz
That's a great idea-I have several photos from that performance.
Green tomatoes here too-that was supposed to be on the menu tonight, but I forgot and they got sauteed pattypans instead. Oops.

Bibi said...

Monsoon is in full tilt boogie here, pouring but it has cooled down to 79F- tolerable.
Metallic purses- my kryptonite.
We are growing pumpkins for the local festivals in October as vegetarian substitute for the required animal sacrifice.
My husband and sons have never eaten pie. I wonder if pie crust will stand up in this humidity- bread doesn't. Maybe I'll try hand pies when it gets drier.

Mim said...

That pie does look nice. I'm not a rhubarb fan, but I'd be prepared to try that. If I do anything with it, it goes in crumbles.

And ARF! at the German Johnsons.

How nice still to have those petals tucked away in a bag. I still have a dried-up rose my husband bought me from a wandering flower-seller one holiday. Do you use the metallic bag at all nowadays?

Goody said...

They bake pies in the deep South, so I would guess it would hold up to humidity, though I'd try some sort of vegetable shortening or clarified butter rather than regular old butter. There's an old trick with blind-baked pie crusts and shells where you gently slip them out of the tin and cool them on a rack to ensure they stay firm. Maybe you could try blind baking the bottom crust for 15 minutes or so, cooling it, and then going ahead with the rest of the pie?

Rhubarb is certainly the sort of thing that can be too much if you don't like your fruit tart and grass-like.
I don't think I've ever used the purse for anything but holding the flowers. Perhaps I should, but it does feel a bit like I'd be carrying a little girl's purse.

Curtise said...

Ahh, how lovely to have had that bag for so long, and as a keepsake holder, it's perfect.
The pie looks delicious - I am a terrible pastry cook, it's always too hard and heavy (I think my hands are too hot...) I like my rhubarb mixed with another fruit too. Apple is good but blueberries would be even better!
Catching up - that maxi dress in your previous post is amazing, and should be mine, if there was any justice in the world, so I am huffing into my coffee with envy. Since it looks so fabulous on you, I'll get over my disappointment that it doesn't belong to me! xxx

Connie said...

It is pretty funny to see styles recycled. I guess I've been around long enough to notice Things like that. Bell bottoms anyone? But that purse is very interesting nonetheless. You always find the best stuff. And blue barb pie. Yum. I love rhubarb. It has been way too hot around here to bake. I'm freezing fuit so I can attack it in the fall.

Goody said...


Some people plunge their hands into ice water before handling pastry dough, but I'm not sure it is worth it. Commercially made frozen pie crusts are pretty good these days, I hate to admit.

You guys have had insane weather-I hope the El Nino forms and you get some relief.

Wait...bell bottoms are back?! Please let that be true.